A video visit with your academic librarian: an idea for your seniors

One of my exceptional former students, Lawrence (NJ) High School librarian Ewa Elliot, hosted a meeting a couple of weeks back. She invited middle and high school, public and academic librarians to have a conversation about Ewa scheduled time for us to chat about: our current programs across the board preparing students for life after […]

it's time toCelebrateOne of my exceptional former students, Lawrence (NJ) High School librarian Ewa Elliot, hosted a meeting a couple of weeks back. She invited middle and high school, public and academic librarians to have a conversation about

Ewa scheduled time for us to chat about:

  • our current programs across the board
  • preparing students for life after high school
  • college expectations regarding library skills
  • what we might do to adjust/improve our programs on every level and setting.
I attended virtually but could tell how much energy was in the group and how eager these librarians were to learn and improve our programs. Among several great ideas that we brainstormed.

How might we introduce high school seniors to their prospective college librarians and college libraries?

College website visits: When I was a high school library, one of my regular Spring efforts involved introducing seniors to the virtual spaces of the university libraries they might attend. At the end of the school year, I used to gather as many senior classes as I could and tour them around university library websites.

While we were together we examined database holdings.  We reinforced the names of vendors and publishers and aggregators how those familiar names would have similar interfaces but more sophisticated or more robust offerings. We looked at the discovery search and the individual database listings, and options to find ebooks, reserves, research tools and support. Though we could not get into most of the content in their database hubs, we’d note old friends and the older brothers and sisters of the databases they’d gotten to know in our high school programs.

Bus tours: Ewa shared that she took some of her seniors on bus trips to visit a local college library in order to alleviate their potential discomfort about entering a large, unfamiliar facility with significantly expanded resources.

Those Ewa’s tours were successful, I wondered it might be easier and more scalable strategy. We can’t all load buses of students for trips to academic libraries.
Our conversation led to brainstorming possible alternative strategies.
Web visits with academic librarians?
We organize web chats with authors and experts and classrooms around the world.  What if we introduced our seniors to their best friend on campus using the same strategy?
What if we were able to schedule video chats with university librarians?  What if we were also able to archive some of those chats to share with our seniors?

I spoke with Rebecca Bushby. As a former school librarian for the Mt. Olive School District, and now as the Education Librarian at The College of New Jersey Library, Rebecca has seen the situation from both sides.  In her current academic position, Rebecca would welcome a strategy to connect with incoming freshman prior to their stressful first arrival on campus.171011FacultyHeadshots_Adams0042

Next best thing?

So what if, we tried to figure out those colleges where a critical mass of our students might land in September?

In May or early June, we might arrange visits with those academic librarians through video conferencing and we might archive those live meetings for those who cannot be there live.  We could maintain an archive of a few of those for a few years to come.

One of the elements Rebecca would want to share in a video visit or video would be a sense of the size of the academic library, perhaps through a Facetime walk.

Rebecca shared:

As a high school librarian, I worked with classroom teachers to provide database instruction and library research workshop sessions. When I moved to the college library, my colleagues and I agreed that we wanted to continue working together, but we would move our session to the college library and add an introduction to college-level library resources for the students.

This past January, I collaborated with three of my former colleagues at Mt. Olive High School to bring their AP students to visit the library at TCNJ. Thirty students and their teachers took part in a morning of library research workshop sessions with me. Students, teachers, and librarian agreed that it was a productive event and that we wanted to schedule future sessions.

It is not always easy to arrange an in-person visit for a group of high school students to visit the campus. Some of the obstacles with which we have met include scheduling an optimal time that works for everyone involved, and on the high school side, needing to get permissions from administrators and parents, and reserve and pay for bussing. During discussions at a recent regional librarian collaboration meeting, the idea for video campus library visits arose.

I want the students viewing the video visit to get the same feel of the physical space of the library that the students had visiting in person. For the visiting students, it was awesome that the library had five floors, and staircases, and couches, and study rooms, and a café! They experienced getting help from the reference librarian to retrieve print materials, and from the staff in instructional technology to use the scanners. They used the crank shelving to retrieve bound periodicals and saw what journals look like in print. We used various databases to research for articles on their topics and they learned about interlibrary loan services. I think we could film a live visit so that the viewers could see the responses of the high school students as they experience the college library resources.

So we’re planning a little prototype we’ll be sharing a little later in the spring!

We know our kiddos will be choosing many different schools and we know not everyone will see a live Q&A event, but it’s a start and we may be able to grow and our archives.

More to come!

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